Sunday, February 16, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Captivated by the beauty of bamboo

"Bamboo Style"

by Gale Beth Goldberg
Gibbs Smith, $39.95

Visually attractive to the point of distraction, this mini coffee-table book accomplishes what it sets out to do: It enthralls the casual browser as well as the serious collector of exquisite bamboo furniture, arts and crafts and gardening. It is replete with well-lighted color photos and pruning illustrations that convey texture, warmth and the thorough expertise of author Gale Beth Goldberg.

The book is timely, too. Designers, who for years have been using hardwoods, are enchanted with the aesthetics of bamboo, a readily sustainable material for building homes, designing furniture, and crafting accessories. (See related story.) Flexible, resilient, supple, lightweight, edible, this reedy grass can be used to create a lot more than furniture — is is also used in the manufacture of musical instruments, papermaking, reportedly even as an aphrodisiac (!) and in bronchial treatments.

The author, an architect with a longstanding interest in renewable materials, succinctly relates the Asian history of bamboo, as well as South American lore about the stuff. Stunning, rich close-ups of stalks and finished furniture on golden bamboo flooring evoke images of Architectural Digest-quality shots. The end papers alone are art, with silhouetted bamboo leaves spread alluringly.

Goldberg clearly has an informed passion for her subject, as evidenced by her readable, sophisticated text.

— Renata Birkenbuel


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